tv Charlie Rose WHUT April 5, 2011 3:00am-4:00am EDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. it is good to be back. and we begin this evening with libya and a look at the rebel forces: their resources, their abilities, their makeup, and who they are. joining me are bernard levy, the french philosopher and journalist, les gelb on the council of foreign relations, kareem fahim of the "new york times" and ben wedeman of cnn. >> i don't want to take any bet, but i don't think it will be such a long war. i cannot believe that. you know, qaddafi... no regime can survive against all international community. >> well, of course nations have been able to hold out against almost the entire international community for a long, long period of time.
look at zimbabwe even today. look at iraq. it has happened before. it's not as if it's impossible. one of the big problems with those who just simply advocated getting in there without thinking was that they didn't realize that one step inevitably inevitably leads to another and to another. >> they started in an uprising that began with lawyers and young people and university professors and it had to do with forming a new constitution and the right to protest and greater freedoms in society and it grew from there and it's increasingly the rebels have brought in professionals and technocrats, partly... largely in some cases to impress the west. >> the fighting that takes place
back and forth around brega, whether it goes back and forth to ras lanuf, bin jawad, unknown towns in the libyan desert i think is in effect immaterial to what is happening in the broader states. increasing isolation, crashing the regime in tripoli, that's what will undermine and potentially by b the fatal blow to moammar qaddafi. not these young men with a.k.-47s and r.p.g.s on the road to brega. >> rose: a snapshot of libya when we continue. every story needs a hero we can all root for. who beats the odds and comes out on top. but this isn't just a hollywood storyline. it's happening every day, all across america.
every time a storefront opens. or the midnight oil is burned. or when someone chases a dream, not just a dollar. they are small business owners. so if you wanna root for a real hero, support small business. shop small. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin tonight with libya and a look at who the rebels are and what their intentions are. they made advances in the
strategic oil town of brega today after more heavy fighting there. the developments are the latest in a battle that has swung back and forth in recent days. the growing questions about the capabilitys of the rebel forces and also about their leadership. joining me from new york is bernard andre levy, he is is well-known french intellectual and journalist. his trip to benghazi a month ago persuaded president sarkozy to take the lead on intervening in libya. les gelb in the council on foreign relations. he has written a series of pieces critical of the mission and kareem fahim of the "new york times." his piece in today's paper was a close look at fishers there the opposition forces. and joining us later from eastern libya is ben wedeman of cnn. he's a senior international correspondent and the channel's cairo bureau chief. i am pleased to have all of them here with me this evening to put libya in perspective as we look at a situation that has enormous consequences. so welcome, welcome. great to see you.
tell me where you think the situation is today. >> from observation, the situation is not so bad as i hear here and there. four weeks is not a lot if you compare to the ten weeks of the controversy operation or the ten years of the operation in afghanistan. it's only four weeks. so i think you have the rebel army which is in formation, which is in the process of being shaped. you have some strikes from the allies-- american, french, english who succeeded that prevented the bloodbath in benghazi. we achieved that. we were at the edge. qaddafi's tanks were in the suburbs of benghazi. a few hours later it would have been a massacre. we prevented that. so the conclusion for the moment is not so bad.
>> rose: what's the intent of the french government here? what are they prepared to do? >> number one, stop the bloodbath which is as itself hugely important thing to prevent, to avoid a new rwanda. to avoid a new bosnia. president sarkozy, as far as i know, is personally obsessed by the precedent, by the counterexample of rwanda, genocide of tutsis by hutus with france looking, staring at the thing without doing anything and obsessed with the bosnian/sarajevo long thing with 200,000 dead. so the first thing with my president, i think, was to avoid that. never more bosnia, never more rwanda.
>> rose: he has done that? he is on the ground there? >> he has contributed to that. >> rose: so how far is he prepared to go? what's his own end game for this? >> you know, all this went so quickly that there is a part of improvisation, the strategy, the structure of command, the way of involvement, all these were not clear when it began. but for an improvised operation again it succeeds rather well. and as far as i know france, mr. cameron and england and i hope mrs. clinton and mr. obama in america, they are eager, they are absolutely decided to go to the goal, to go to the target which is to help democracy to start in libya. >> rose: and is it the goal of
the french president and the french forces to change the regime? to force mr. qaddafi either by some force that will come upon him or by his own decision to lead? >> i happened to be there when president sarkozy received the three emissaries of the free libyan council and he insisted very much on one point. he insisted on one point. we french, when we made our revolution, we did it by ourselves. we would not have liked anybody, even the most friendly friend, to do instead of us. so you, libyan, you will do your own revolution. all we can do is to help you. there is here a terrible unfair, unbalance of forces. you have on one side some planes
some tanks, some heavy weapons. on the other side ill-equipped army. we can hope the correct the unbalance. now change your regime, change your regime. it's your business, you, libya. and the three emissaries... >> rose: but if this is a long civil war, the french are prepared to stick with the people they have recognized in libya and see it to the end? >> i don't want to... i don't want to take any bet. but i don't think it will be such a long war. i cannot believe that. you know, qaddafi... no regime can survive against all international communities. don't forget that this war is exactly the opposite of the iraq war. iraq war... war in iraq was illegal, without mandate against all the area. today it's a legal war with the
mandate of united nations and with the blessing of arab league. so it cannot last infinitely. it cannot last infinitely. qaddafi cannot remain against the whole world. >> rose: but it looks like a stalemate today. >> four weeks. four weeks. not even. three weeks and a half. what is three weeks and a half? >> rose: but do you believe they can do it? the rebel cans do what they have to do without arms from the west france, united kingdom. united states. >> charlie, the rebels, i saw them two weeks ago. i was with them in brega, in ras lanuf, i saw them operating. there are teachers. there are merchants, there are students. most of them never had a gun in their hands for all their lives. so, they are inventing the army. they are inventing their own freedom, and they are fighting
for values for their families, for their homes, for their children. so let them... so let's let them the time to organize and to achieve this goal. in front of them they have some... not a real army. qaddafi, as you know, did not trust his army because he went by the army and he was always afraid to be kicked off by the army. so he has a weak army with a strong body of mercenaries. >> rose: you were on the ground there, you wrote a piece in the "new york times" that said there is division among the leadership. characterize how you see it in the context of what bernard just said and the context of what you wrote today. >> well, in my article today i focused on some of the divisions in the military leadership. the rebel military leadershipay. there seems to be a ris, some
confusion about who r actually leads the rebel ay and that's sort of a strong term has... you know, as we've heard this isn't a proper army, it's a... it's a group of regular citizens who areth joined by some soldiers commanded by former military men. and so one of the issues is who's organizing these people. and in the weeks i've been here, we've seen very little organization of the rebel fighters. the implications of that are that there's not really a changing dynamic on the ground and so the rebels have won victorys from time to time, but they are sort of isolated ones and for the most part we see them running right up against
far superior weapons, artillery and missiles that have long ranges and that prevent them from advancing in any meaningful way. and so the big question sort of at this point ashe sy'retuck in brega today and have been for a couple of daysre is what dynac on the ground will change that will allow them to progress. the equation we've seen heren is the allied aire strikes. and, you know, when thereir were air strikes south of benghazi, they quickly drove south to the town of ajdabiya and started to try and retake ttha town. but it took them days and days to retake that town.t and finally there were air strikes again and they were able
to push through the gates of the town. so that's... you know, those are the sort of serious challenges facing them. you know, they've... there were these squabbles over the military leadership and at the same time they are still forming as a government, they're still forming the movement and they've been asked to mane a rather not a short microsoft. >> rose: and what is your expectation as to how it will develop over the next w months? >> it's very hard to see a change inge the current sort of emerging stalemates. i mean, you know, as i said, for a while there it looked like unless the alls sort of bombed the path all the way to tripoli there would be no way for this armys it's constitutes now, as
it's trained now, as it's equipped now to move forward. theyon't have the weaponsth and even if they got the weapo they don't necessarily know howa to use those weapon so there's a great deal ofap training, as ind uerstand it, involved in using the sort of equipment that colonel qaddafi's forces are using against them now. are sort o tf serious questions. you know, and this has changed a lot in the weeks that i've been .here sort of at the beginning theyhe were... the idea the no-fly zone seemed like a pipe dream to a lot of them and, you know, they were asking for air strikes but hoping forno this a -fly zo. you know, we're seeinhi their expectations greatly raised now and theee rebel foreign ministe, i guess, was in italy today
expressing impatience with the pace of the air strikes and wondering why there weren't more. and so i think that's a recognition thates without a serious air campaign their military prospects are sort of pretty dim. >> rose: and is it your pr tessionuthat nato is prepared to give them back? >> you know, i don't know. that's a greatsi question. i mean, the impression from the ground is that t air strikes seem much more likely outside of largely populated civilian centers. so the air strikes can quickly and comprehensively outside of benghazi and left a sort of trail ofnmerovtenenter vehicles all the way down to ajdabiya.
again outside of ajdabiya there were air strikes and there were there have been air strikes in the...n sort of the current campaign along the road to colonel qaddafi'se. strong holdn the town of surt but they have been much more infrequent at least as far as we can tell sort of from this sid of the country and from what the rebel fighters are telling us. >> rose: you are saying without some change element it looks like the kind of stalete. >> it's very hard to predict these things and these fighters are fairly... you know, not fairly committed, they're very committed. there are a lot of ordinaryta people picking up guns running toward a very dangerous situation pretty fearlessly and that's not to be underestimated. but at a certain point there's only so much that a committed
engineer with a kalashnikov can do. and so it's a little hard to see at the moment what could change. >> well i think i disagree with most of what our french colleague had to say, starting with his history and going through what we ought to be trying to do right now. as far as history is concerned, well, of course nations have been able to hold out against almost the entire international community for long, long periods of time. look at zimbabwe even today. look at iraq, it has happened before. it's not as if it's impossible. one of the big problems with those who just simply advocated getting in there without thinking was that they didn't realize that one step inevitably leads to another and to another and our involvement gets deeper and deeper maybe without a conclusive end. but you have to think of those
things. secondly, i think it is wrong to compare libya with bosnia or with rwanda. bosnia and rwanda were instances of genocide. the hutus were killing the tutsis, period. the tutsis didn't rebel against the hutus. it was genocide. in the case of bosnia, the serbs were doing ethnic cleansing against the muslims and the croatians. in the case of libya for whatever good reasons, the rebels started up a civil war against qaddafi. i would, too, the rebels for the first five days were winning and no one said anything about that. i didn't say anything about it, either. i was happy to see them winning. but when they started losing then the roof was going to cave in. from my standpoint it was correct to take some humanitarian interventiond .
but to me lead should have been with the arab countries and with libya's neighbors and with the united states in a supporting role. but what happened was people like mr. henri levy said it was important and then we did it. if it was so important why didn't the french do it? and the british? and the egyptians? they had all the with all to conduct these operations and we could have supported it. but all of a sudden it became of great importance for the united states to do. >>. >> rose: if no one else was prepared to do it, the humanitarian aspects, when qaddafi had promised a massacre in benghazi, that would alone have been enough for you to support a president who says we're not going to let that humanitarian tragedy... >> probably i would have, yes. if it had come to that. but we had plenty of nations in the area that were fully capable militarily of carrying out the
operations necessary to their own humanitarian concerns. >> i'm sorry. but when we see military planes shooting some demonstrators in the streets of tripoli, when you have pacific demonstrators without weapons and when they are hunted by planes, these not a civil war. >> so send in the french air force. >> please, we are no expert in military topics, you and me. we are writers, essayists. we cannot say it is not a civil war. pacific demonstrators and armies with planes, it is not a civil war, it is a war against civilians which is very different. qaddafi launched a war against his own civilians. against his own people. that was the situation.
number two, we did not discover all of a sudden who was qaddafi. qaddafi paid for international terrorism. qaddafi was guilty... >> why didn't you do that five years ago? >> lockerbie. >> 16 years ago. >> berlin, the g.i.s in berlin and so on. so we did not discover... >> charlie, again, totally historical. >> a gentle qaddafi. >> we all made friends with qaddafi after he said he was willing to give up his nukes. >> and it was a mistake. >> they all embraced it. >> of course. and it was a huge fault. when my president, sarkozy, embraced qaddafi, i was the first to say that it was disgusting, that it was a scandal. >> i agree. >> now he changed his position and at last he understands that qaddafi is a danger for the world. we have... i, at least, applaud. >> i'm glad he turned into such a humanitarian president, sarkozy.
>> rose: what's wrong with that? if he did that, if, in fact, he listened to the people that bernard brought to speak to him and qaddafi decided to recognize him and to support them, you have no problem with that. >> he should have done something about it. i have no problem with that at all, charlie. the egyptians, who are part of the arab league and part of the group that voted to take action against qaddafi have an air force that could have provided the no-fly cover by themselves. it's a potent air force. the italians haven't flown any flights. why aren't they? the french air force alone could do something like that with our support. you see, here once again we have a crisis created which other states could have handled, the neighbors, and it was thrown mainly upon us. >> rose: okay, that's a valuable question to? an important question to ask. why didn't the egyptians come in? why did not other arab countries
say we not only believe that what qaddafi... they didn't like anyway. >> i agree. and i can tell you a few weeks before... on the 19th of february, two days after the beginning of the war against civilians in libya i was happening to have dinner with the new minister of tourism in egypt, i forgot his name now. and he told me, you know, for us egyptian people, the palestinians palestinian suffering is a bleeding wound in our body. we suffer. i told him, okay, maybe you are right. and what about the libyan suffering? and he told me this egyptian is oh, no, the libyan suffering is a libyan affair, it should be handled by the people of libya itself. we should not put our hands in that. so, true, there was a sort of hypocrisy of the arab world, of egypt toward libya.
but it is not because egypt does not move that we should not move. if there is somebody committing a crime at my door, in my street there is somebody who does not intervene, i see it, i try to intervene, it is not because one is a co-op, i have to be a co-op too. >> rose: what's wrong with that point? other countries weren't prepared to do it. >> what's wrong with it is... >> it is our honor. and when i say "our" it means france and england and america to be faithful to our our creed. we are a country of democracy, country of value. it is our pride to be... >> i applied your speech. >> ...even if the egyptian... >> i applaud your speech and i i plaud the arab league declaration and statements by the french and british governments and my reaction to it was, right, go do something about it and not... >> rose: but...
>> wait a second! wait a second. >> rose: let him finish. >> i didn't say without the united states. i said with the united states in a supporting role. and if they threw it upon us immediately, werd have thrown it back at them. and only if it came to dire duress and we were the only choice, yes, by all means. but the fact is the french were there, the british were there, the italians were there. they all could have acted, charlie. >> rose: the nature of theknyoo. you know, there's some concern is we don't know who they are.s >> there's not a ton more that we know. i mean, we know where they started. they started, you kw, in an uprising that began with lawyers and young people and university professors and it had to do with forming a new tuconstition and the right tons protest and grear freedoms in siety and it grew from there and it is increasingly the rebels have
brought in sort of professionals and technocrats partly-- or largely, in some cases-- to impress the west-- and at the same time to help run their economy and to help run the oil industrysa and for other very gd reasons and to run their cities. and so there is this veryhe lare group of people that i don't think are ave coherent movementn any way. and so it's a little hard to draw conclusions about the kind of government they would form or the kind of foreign policy they would run or any of those other questions you can ask about a government. i mean, we know how they've conducted themselves so far which is to try and include sort
of all the different parts of aliby in their sort of fledgling national conversation at this pointli. and to i think draw in a pretty broad cross section of people. there are a number of different political persuasions in this national council that they've formed. there are people who have inserted themselves into the consideratn erand the are people who legitimatelyem sed o have been with the rebel movement if the beginning. but tre's no strong tendency one way or the other. it's not... >> rose: there's no sense that there's some... that somehow to take the easy choice, islamist elements will take over this movement and when it comes to governance they will have an advantage for whatever reason >> no. i mean, you know, i haven't seen
sort of any sign of a strong tendency that way but, again, you know, it's a... at the same time the finance minister said the other day people are making a little much of this. it's a muslim country. we don't hide that it's a muslim countr it's... it may be conservative in many ways and that's sort of part of libya but in terms of sort of fighters who were in iraq or afghanistan or iwhatevr holding great power or being very influential there's no sign of that. >> rose: okay. you know some of these people, obviously, and you talked to them about these kinds of things. what do they tell you? >> number one, i'm really surprised by this growingness of the opacity and mystery of this.
they are not mysteries at all. some of them are very well known. we have a big track record about them. they are the former guys of qaddafi who changed camp. you have three or four of them. we exactly know who they are, no mystery. and the others they speak openly to whoever wants, whatever journalist wants. if you come to me to benghazi, charlie, we shall see or wish we could see any of them ask any questions. it's not a secret army. there is a sort of legend growing up in the minds of those who are looking for reasons not to act or to withdraw. no, they are well-known people, number one. muslim brothers or islamists and so on, of course everything is possible. but i do not either find any sign of that. they are moderate muslims, some
of them are conservative. remember the speech from barack obama in cairo? he made the clear line between radical islam and moderate islam. in libya you have the embodiment of this moderate islam which mr. obama claimed to help and to promote. now which government will they build? we don't know. we have to remain very careful, of course, but as far as i know, as far as i listen, they want to make a secular government with three... free elections. with a sort of parliamentary regime. the contrary of what happened 30 years ago in the bloody hell iran. >> rose: okay. but you, in fact, said to me-- i think-- that most of them don't want to be part of the government. is that correct? >> yes, they are... the 11
members 130r... 11 plus two... 11 plus two. the traditional council. they think that the goal of their achievement of their life is to lead the country to the edge of democracy. they are not... it is not an affair of ambition. they are, frankly, we are kind of surprised but they are rather good guys. they are animated by a rather noble ambition which is again to protect their country and to save their families and if i had to make a bet it would be certainly not a perfect democracy. of course not. but a good step? the right direction certainly yes. and for me this is far preferable than qaddafi who made a sort of ego state, a state equaling to his ego, for 42 years. >> rose: all right. let me turn to you. tell me a few things.
your assessment of how the president of the united states has handled this and your concerns for the future of libya >> i think president obama has done a reasonable job with a terribly difficult situation. the united states is still involved in two major wars. very serious business. and a serious economic situation at home. and then we have libya and some of our closest allies like france and britain and egypt are telling us we must act. and they're telling us how important it is. and i'm not rejecting that. i'm saying president obama should have said to them right at the outset i agree, go to it, take whatever action you consider necessary to impose that no-fly zone and i will be
proud to have the united states in a supporting role. >> rose: okay. >> and i would. i think after he set this up he made clear that we would continue it to a certain point and then others would take the lead. i am satisfied with where we are now as long as we don't start down yet another track providing arms, providing trainers and the like. if our allies... >> rose: but if they want to do it it's okay. >> if they want to do it, it's fine with me. >> rose: the only problem you have is the united states got involved. that's the only problem you have. >> we got involved in a direct role not a supporting role. >> rose: so your problem is not with anything he did... his government, he and his government. your problem is you don't want them to drag the united states in because you don't think it's a united states war? correct? >> that's right. that's right. >> rose: okay. i just want to help define where you are. >> (laughs) >> kareem, what should we look to next?l, w younoor >> well, you know, one of the things that's important here is
that when we talk about the dynamic beinstuck, it's stuck because the rebels have come to expect the air strikes and are be disappointed and unable to sort come buthen they don't that doesn't mean that that freezes their efforts. and so, you know, if there are fewer air strikes, if the air campaign... if the allies back off the air campaign for whateverea rson, i'm sure... well, i can't be sure, but i would expect that they would fine other ways toight. i mean, certainly ty fought in benghazi without air power backing them. and... >> rose: and they were losing. >> well, no, they weren't losing. i mean, they... they repelled an attack in benghazi. whether that attack would have continued, whether all the armor sort of on the road would have whoverelmed them is sort of an open question at some point in
the future but, you knowov, they are certainly able to fight. so at the moment when they're expecting air strikes to allow them advance and they don't come theyno seem to be sort of frozeh in place. and so, you know, we'll be looking to see how they adjust, whether they make clear decisions about their military leadership and sort out the risk at the top and whether they're able... whether they have professional soldiers they can call on and whether they can organize as professional solders to take sort of a more active role in the effort. and we'll be watching the political developments, too. i failed to mention that there is also a very strong sort of core of these lawyers and these university professors still very much involved and it hasn't sort
of been taken over by these sort of well-known technocrats. they are fairly new tohe scene but the people who were sort thereof at the beginning are very much sort of part of this fledgling government. >> can you tell me anytortgme sa way to have a cease-fire? >> so there are various reports about cease-fire efforts, including this initiative by two of qaddafi's sons. to move him from the scene. at this point the rebels are prettyhe uninterested in a transition that would be led, and they said as much, uninterested in a transition that would be led by anybo in that family and they are not from theirking away demands that, you know... >> rose: qaddafi go. >> that qaddafi go. so it's a
little hard to see how the negotiation would work out at this point, but, again, the longer this sort of military... this emerging stalemate coinueco maybe that will change. >> rose: kareem, thank you for joining us. a pleasure to have you on this program and you have contributed much this evening. thank you. >> thank you. >> rose: you come here to this table, a, as my friend and secondly you come here to this table having a strong relationship now with the president of france based on a long friendship. what do they say, as much as you can tell us, about how this thing might end? >> long friendship and long opposition. >> rose: exactly. >> you did not support him... >> i do not support and i'm in disagreement with a lot of things he does. what do i think? i don't know. there is an hypothesis which is on the table of an honorable
exit but this sin from benghazi is absurd. in benghazi the people say why do we need an on rabble exit for a man who lost any honor? qaddafi has no honor. >> rose: honor. >> honor. not honorable at all. so it's very difficult to imagine an honorable way out for qaddafi, number one. number two, can what can we predict on the ground? there are great things that i would say to my friend from the "new york times." two things make the operations very difficult. the first one is a strategy of qaddafi. i had last night on the phone some people from misurata. is misurata is a city west of benghazi which was encircled by forces of qaddafi and now the tanks are inside the city which means that qaddafi transforms
the remaining city into bunkers. he had a bunker in berlin, qaddafi has a city as a bunker. berlin has a bunker. this makes the operations very, very difficult. we had some-to-bomb some tanks or some armored vehicles when you have some civilians transformed into human shields number one. and number two, you have the necessary time to build the resistance. i remember sarajevo, bosnia. it took six months for rebels of sarajevo, for the simple citizens to build a proper army. it took six months. it is hard even when you have the weapons you have to learn the use of the weapons, you have to learn the discipline. and this is what is in a way great in these guys. >> rose: so you say that because anybody who talks of a stalemate
or, in fact, where there is not immediate progress they should be patient, is your point? >> we have to be patient, of course. war is not a video game like our children play at. it takes time. >> rose: we have ben wedeman on. ben, can you hear me? >> yes, i can hear you. >> rose: tell me what's going on on the ground and how you see this conflict at this moment. >> well, at the moment it appears that the rebel forces have more or less surrounded brega. and this after days and days of sort of back and forth: real chaos at the front lines where you see time and time again all the signs of disorganization, lack of discipline, poor training or no training at all day after day. now today we've seen that the opposition forces have been able to move a bit forward. they've taken part of what represents the town of brega.
but what happens often is that they'll advance and then they'll come under fire, for instance today we were with the opposition fighters three times. we were pinned down by artillery fire and we and all of these opposition fighters had to rush away because they haven't learned the basic fact of digging fox holes, digging trenches, making defensive positions. they just get in their pick u.k. trups and drive away. there is the impression at the front line speaking to opposition officers that that two wikileaks of a no-fly zone with constant air strikes by nato airplanes that the abilities of the abilitys of the loyalist forces are beginning to erode. that they're running out of am sigs and other supplies. that eventually because of that... not because of the military abilities of the rebels that they may be defeated or
have to pull out of brega between next 24 hours or 48 hours. but every step forward for the opposition is very difficult and it's a learning process, really, as they go forward. >> rose: les gelb is sitting with me at the table in new york. >> you know, i hope qaddafi falls. whatever offers he makes, they're not likely to be accepted now. but i think it's naive to assume that we're going win this war with air power. we took a very good shot at qaddafi for almost ten days and u.s. air power was fully deployed there, u.s. missiles. and he's still around to tell the story... >> rose: well, there was some effort to avoid civilian casualties. >> yes, it was. it was. but it was all out against his forces. that was serious attack against his forces. we didn't go after their
civilian targets... >> rose: but they retreated into civilian locations. >> but then he went on the offensive again, charlie, with all that air power applied. so to think we're going to win this with air power alone i think is unlikely. i hope it works, but it's unlikely. which means pressures will build to start doing more. and if others want to do more, if they want to send in arms, trainers and troops, that should be their decision. but they should not once again put the burden of acting on the united states. >> rose: okay, i understand that. you made that argument and you appropriately make it again. >> yes, because it's been forgotten for the last month. >> rose: okay. >> can i reply? >> rose: yes. >> i think... i'm sorry, again, i don't agree. i think it is very wise for the coalition to go step by step if we were put in, if sarkozy, obama, and cameron were put in, in two days the game would be
over. we are not put in. we go step by step doing our best to avoid civilian casualties so again it has to take time. but i take a bet today in front of you, charlie. i bet that you will not have western boots on the ground. we will not be committed to that you americans and us french and for me there is no difference, we share the same values, we share the same creed that you americans... >> bullet me say this. are you prepared to put the boots on the ground if that is the only way to get rid of qaddafi? >> i tell you i was on... i was... i have my own boots on the ground a few days ago. >> did you go in? >> i might have them again in a few days, my own boots on the ground. >> rose: >> but what about western troops? >> i tell you my best is that we
will not need that. the war will be much briefer than you believe. because he's not so strong. we always overestimate. >> rose: let me go back to ben. >> wait, you will see he's less strong than maybe we think. >> rose: ben, can the rebel forces win this war and topple qaddafi without the support of either boots on the ground or significant more support militarily than they're getting simply from air power? >> well, i agree with your previous guest which is that i think moammar qaddafi is far less strong than he may appear at the moment. i think there's serious cracks in his regime in tripoli, certainly after the defection of now former foreign minister moussa koussa. i don't think decisive blow will be a military one from the rebels in the east.
they simply don't the logistics to go the hundreds of kilometers from here to ras lanuf to misurata to eventually tripoli. i think it's the fundamental weaknesses of this regime which is really under pressure. today the italians and the kuwaitis announced that they would recognize the transitional government in benghazi as a representative of the libyan people. i think slowly sort there's a drip/drip of events that's occurring that is undermining qaddafi which really has nothing to do with the fact that there is a fairly unorganized and not very potent rebel military effort coming from the east. >> rose: so he may very well be disintegrateing from within rather than from the forces of the rebels. >> and certainly we're hering about fuel shortages. yes. in addition to the defection of
diplomats, the increasing isolation of tripoli, there are food shortages and there are fuel shortages in tripoli. certainly i think we should keep our eyes on the situation there. the fighting that takes place, the back and forth around brega, whether it goes to ras lanuf, bin jawad and until now unknown towns in the libyan desert i think is in effect immaterial to what is happening in the broader states. increasing isolation, cracks in the regime in tripoli. that's what will undermine and potentially be the fatal blow to moammar qaddafi, not these young men with a.k.-47s and r.p.g.s on the road to brega. >> rose: and is that likely to happen and how long will it take >> it's anybody's guess. i don't think it will take six months or anything like that. beyond that it's very difficult
to say. but certainly one gets the sense of rats leaving a sinking ship in tripoli. moussa koussa was somebody who for 15 years was the head of libyan intelligence. for them to jump ship is a significant blow. basically what you're left with, what moammar qaddafi is left with is his sons around him and the people around his sons. it's not a large political base for anybody to survive very long. >> libya is a tribal country. and that doesn't disappear even with all these problems. we're talking about the defection of people who participated in all of qaddafi's murders. this is now regarded as a triumph. maybe they do see he's losing and they're going to jump ship before they get caught. i hope that's true. country whee qaddafi and qaddafi's tribes
will support people against the eastern tribes. >> what allows you say like this? libya is a tribal country and maybe forever? the world is moving even in libya. i want to give you a little information. in the national council of transition you have 11 known members and 20 unknown members. do you know why they are unknown? because they precisely belong to what you call the tribes of qaddafi. the tribe of qaddafi himself, it would have members of the rebel i don't know shadow belonging to the tribe of qaddafi and you have 18 others... >> can i... >> wait a minute. who are kept secret for security reasons because they believe to these tribes. libya is changing. you have a wind of... little wind, maybe. there will be some counter wind
probably but a wind of liberty, of freedom, of citizenship, whatever. i believe that there is real... we were completely convinced that the arab world was stuck into authority and condemned to know democracy. they are giving us a great lesson, a lesson of values which we thought being only ours and we should be happy you and me. the three of us together at that. >> rose: let's go back to ben for a closing. >> is this really a democratic revolution throughout the middle east i'm all for it. >> rose: do you believe it is? >> i don't know. my concern is that we're in europe of the 1920s, not europe of 1945. europe in 1920s, the democrats really opened the door to the future. they got rid of the emperors and the kings and the aristocracys and there was that great moment of hope.
but then the extremist took over because in fluid situation the people who gained power are those who are the most organized and the most ruthless. and my sphere that these democrats could open the door in various places in the middle east but others will rush in there to get power and they could be worse than the people who rule those countries now. we have that great moment of hope in glurp the 1920s only to see stall lib and hitler and mussolini and the like. and there is this danger. i'm in favor of nurturing what is involved in middle east but i'm also in favor of keeping my eyes open. i'm not going to put my boots on the ground far day and proclaim democracy to be the future of that part of the world. >> can i had one point? i share your fear, you are right to have fear but we can have
also hope and we can help the hope to exist. you say the empire's... you have another example. you have the revolution of 1989. we had fears and we had hope and hope prevailed in eastern europe and in central europe thank god because of america, because of pope john paul ii. >> rose: i have to go back to ben. ben, you've been listening to this, will you settle it for he? >> there's no settling. this is something that the arab revolutionings that we've seen beginning in tunisia in january as we're looking into unknown territory. it's very hard to predict. but certainly what we've seen is this outpouring of emotion, of ideals that we haven't seen in the middle east and the arab world i don't think ever and it's hard to predict where it's
going. we should hope for the best. what i saw in tunisia, what i saw in tahrir square in egypt was something that gives me great hope. yes, there's the possibility for instance in egypt that the muslim brotherhood could hijack the revolution but what i saw was thousands of young people who are not members of the muslim brotherhood, who are not even supporters of the muslim brotherhood who have made it clear that their idea of the revolution was not to bring in some sort of islamic state. their idea was democracy, freedom of the press and human dignity. so i think i've fundamentally optimistic but i don't think we should be wildly idealistic in expecting roses to come up everywhere in the arab world. it's a very complicated part of the world but there's reason for optimism. far more so than sort of the
bleak stale rotten environment of that the dictators of the middle east like hosni mubarak, like ali abdullah saleh in yemen that was their promise for the future. so i bet on the revolutions when it comes to this current situation. >> rose: ben wedeman, thank you so much. always good to have you on this program reporting live from wherever you are and i thank you again this evening. my thanks also to my good friend les gelb and finally my good friend bernard levy. thank you all, see you next time.